Inyambo STARS on WAD2021

On Saturday 4 December 2021, I helped Inyambo STARS to organise a local event to celebrate World AIDS Day. This was a day to show their community why they are true talents, showing their fashion skills AND committed to helping their community, especially supporting vulnerable people living with HIV in Gihanga, Burundi.

Inyambo STARS, RBP+ ( Reseau Burundais des Personnes vivant avec le VIH) with indonongo.org support, organised a total of three activities. And as large gatherings were not allowed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they really had to show their improvisation skills this time around!

The day started with a great Burundian tradition called Ibikorwa Rusangi, community work. All over the country, every Saturday morning from 8h00 the people of Burundi contribute collectively to keeping our community healthy and promoting good cross-cultural relations. They were joined by their parents, local representatives, shopkeepers and other community members.

Really, there is no way Inyambo STARS can perform their arts without maintaining good relations and giving back to their community. I know this gave them a lot of inspiration to stay connected and work together as one. What a great opportunity to connect the community of Gihanga to fighting HIV stigma in our country.

After Ibikorwa Rusangi, Inyambo STARS, a selection of people living with HIV and partners, marched together through Gihanga in solidarity with people living with HIV and to raise awareness on this year’s World AIDS Day theme: “End AIDS, end inequalities , end pandemics”. Did you know that in Gihanga there are 246 people living with HIV, 84 men and 162 women? Of them 29 are younger than 29 years, of which 8 boys and 21 girls.

Yes, normally Inyambo STARS would now have done a fashion show or catwalk, but I do believe this March together with people living with HIV did really help them to unify with the HIV community.

They closed the day by expressing solidarity and support to vulnerable people living with HIV. The cordinator of RBP+ reinforced the message to the community of the importance of staying on medication and going to the health centre for regular check-ups. She also called upon pregnant women to do a HIV test so they can detect any new HIV cases to prevent neonatal HIV.

Helping Inyanmbo STARS and their partners to support people living with HIV in Gihanga during World AIDS Day, inspires me a lot and gives me so much positive energy to continue making impact in my community of Gihanga and possibly in the whole of Burundi.

Peace, Eliane

A big applause to the real STARS of the day!

World AIDS day 2021

It’s world AIDS day and, although AIDS continues to kill people and people living with hiv/ AIDS continue to face inequalities, there is a growing number of stories of hope.

This week I met two more people cured of HIV. While they highlighted how they experienced love from others whilst battling cancer and living with hiv, they also received hate and judgement. Stigma is still a big issue. Yet, their stories fill us with hope; that one day we will end hiv and AIDS, and that we must begin our journey by ending stigma and inequalities based on gender, income and race.

While conveying their message of hope, I am also very proud to contribute to the fight against inequalities by sharing two new stories of hope today. I know that Anna and Perry will inspire you with their own stories about overcoming hiv stigma by using their talents.

Don’t let hiv stand in your way!

Peace,

Eliane